Let’s talk a little bit more about schools. Your school experience will be dramatically affected by several factors—and I’m going to call them the 3 F’s. Obviously, your school time will be seriously influenced if your grades are three F’s…but let’s hope that never happens!
Finances, faculty and future (as in career assistance) are extremely important. After all, what’s going to happen if you get enrolled and find out you can’t afford it, or some big fee smacks you in the face…or the faculty stinks and won’t help you? More likely than not, you will either change majors or you will quit all together.
Every school has its snags and I can almost guarantee you that somebody is going to screw something up at least once and you will be the one to pay the price. For me, it was my senior year and my “adviser” (a faculty member who was assigned to oversee what courses I enrolled for each semester and keep me on track) had mislead me.
Basically, she screwed up my entire senior year and told me that I may not graduate because I was going to be a credit short. It wasn’t my fault—it was hers. But either way it was left for me to manage. I took an extra class and everything worked out fine, but I tell you that to say this: expect some things to go wrong.
Expect that at some point someone may discourage you, mark your papers unfairly or misguide your courses—but hang in there and remember the bigger picture. Course training is a tiny length of time, and you can endure the frustrations to make it to your end goal if you are motivated.
Your faculty members—those who oversee the program that you are enrolled in should be medical assistants. They should have experience in your field, and years of it. How can someone who has never done the job teach you to do it?
Make sure to check this detail out before you enroll in any program. The instructors should also be helpful, and able to guide you both professionally and personally along your educational journey. At my school, the faculty members often become mentors and friends to students. If yours aren’t willing, it can make stressful school time all that much harder.
Education is all about the Benjamin’s. Everything costs money and these days its taking more and more money to complete a degree. In the state where I live, both public and private educational institutions have announced tuition hikes for next year. As much as 6%. That’s thousands of dollars more tacked on for students who are already struggling to find ways to pay back student loans.
Make sure you know what school is going to cost and whether you can afford it. In those first days after you apply, the financial aid counselors will be your new family. Make an appointment and sit down to discuss what grants and loans may be available to you. I can’t stress enough how important it is for you to search out scholarships on your own. Many businesses offer scholarships that you may have never considered—like your insurance company or local bank. Some professional organizations for medical assistants may also offer them. So do your homework. You may find enough funds to pay for books every semester (up to $500 or more), or other expenses.
Your school should help find a job after you graduate. Does your school offer career placement assistance? A lot of schools are very proud of their graduation rates and where students go after they complete the program. Check with your school for a career development department. Or talk to the director of your medical assisting program who should know which employers are hiring.
Rachel Ballard, RNC, BSN is a registered nurse with almost a decade of clinical experience in both acute care and public health settings.